In the rural Northwest Rockies, a 17 year-old boy and his dog have gone missing. It is suspected that they might've fallen through the ice of a frozen river near their home. But where are they - dead or alive? A whole community rallies to find them as acclaimed novelist and short story writer, Melanie Rae Thon (Iona Moon, In This Light) sets out to discover their whereabouts in The Voice of the River.
The narrative is prefaced with a lengthy character description list to keep track of the various families tied to the search. Structured in chapters set at various times amid the course of one single day, this novel appears to be about rescuing the missing. But beneath the surface, the story probes the psyches of those who come together in this one community and how they are bound by personal tragedies and loss; grief, love and longings. Amid the search are interlude-like chapters which reflect individual characters as they struggle to find meaning and purpose for life and reconcile the secret, hidden places within their own hearts.
This is a beautifully written novel rendered via a stream-of-consciousness prose style. While this aptly coincides with the river theme, it also makes for a rather challenging read in both form and content. However, the reward of this novel is experiencing the river, all that it represents and every person drawn to it, as a moving meditation about navigating the changing currents and undercurrents of life.
FC2-Fiction Collective 2/The University of Alabama Press, Trade Paper, 978-1573661621, 216 pp.
Publication Date: September 9, 2011
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Please note: This review is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness.